DARIEN – Adjusting to a new head coach can be difficult, but Barret Benson and his Hinsdale South basketball teammates proved the opposite is also true.
Brett Moore came on board this winter to guide South, and despite having to take time to get to know their new coach and his new system, the Hornets still put together a solid season.
“Great season with a new system and new coach, and I can’t wait until next year,” Benson said.
Benson, a sophomore 6-foot-9 center, was a nice piece to build around, but Moore said this team’s success was due to the efforts a seven-player senior class.
“From Day 1 of getting here, this senior group has been great about wanting to work hard. They’re a great group of kids,” Moore said. “It’s an honor to work with them my first year here and they’re a real good model of what we want to do in the future.”
South, which finished the season with a 16-13 record, started off the season on the right foot with a 65-63 overtime victory against district rival Hinsdale Central. The good times continued when the Hornets claimed the title at DeKalb’s Chuck Dayton invite over the holidays.
A tough schedule in the second half of the season saw South lose to Proviso East and Morton (teams that won regional titles this season) two times each as well as Quincy in a tough road environment. Yet the Hornets rebounded to defeat Downers Grove North 51-41 in a regional playoff game March 3.
A rematch with Central in a regional semifinal went against the Hornets, but they gave the Red Devils all they could handle before falling 63-47.
Despite the ending, the Hornets still had one of their better seasons in recent history. Again, Moore gave credit to his senior class for setting the tone.
“I think there’s some dedication to the small things,” Moore said. “When we first got here, we used to give Larry Motuzis such a hard time about his defense. We’d joke with him and get on him about it, and at first I think he was like, I’m not playing defense. Then he saw how good he could be when he did, and he’s our best defender now.”
Motuzis, point guard Marcel Phillips, Stefan Kaplarevic and forward Tyler Zampa were seniors that started the regional game against Central, and Orlando Brown was a key reserve all season. Benson and freshman Iman Reynolds, who was a late-season call-up, should provide a solid nucleus next season, but the loss of the senior group will take some getting used to.
“I wanted to take basketball to a level that it maybe hadn’t been at for a year or two at Hinsdale South, and I thought this group of seniors was great to start with in that regard,” Moore said.